Yesterday I attended the funeral of a young woman from work who committed suicide. She was in her early twenties, exceptionally talented, well-travelled, enthusiastic, professional and extremely insightful with a social conscience and maturity years beyond her age. Was this woman’s experience similar to mine? I am now in my late twenties but seven years ago i attempted suicide. To others, I had everything to live for. I was healthy and athletic, I’d been accepted into a highly competitive course at a prestigious university, and my family was loving and supportive. Those around me did not understand the course of my depression and anxiety, and despite my efforts to make sense of my condition, there was no way to explain my troubles in a way that people could understand. I appreciate there are many reasons people choose to take their own lives, however I write this note suspicious others may be troubled by similar thoughts and experiences as those that troubled me. After years of depression and anxiety, and exhausting self-examination, the idea to kill myself occurred to me quite suddenly. It terrified me, because it seemed so right. For three days I kept this thought to one side, hoping it might go away. But it didn’t go away, and it became like a compulsion. There’s no other way to describe it, other than it felt ‘so right’, as though it were the only option for me. I decided to kill myself. As I prepared, my heart ached for my loved ones. I felt very little sadness for myself and I did not feel any guilt – I was utterly convinced that this was not so much my choice, but rather, the only choice and the right choice. But that doesn’t mean I felt no love and sadness for my family members who I knew loved me and would grieve for me. My chest ached for my brother and sister. My attempt at suicide failed, and I was admitted to a psychiatric ward where I spent the next three months receiving treatment, including anti-depressant, anti-psychotics, sedatives and electro-convulsive shock therapy. My compulsive to kill myself had not gone away but I was tired and distracted. My thoughts continued to traumatise me, but I felt a sense of relief to be in hospital. I tried to rationalise my compulsion to kill myself to my psychiatrist. “It’s as though if I don’t kill myself, I will only continue to deteriorate emotionally and mentally, and this will hurt my loved ones even more. So I have to take control of this situation and do the only thing that can be done.” He said I had an ‘over valued idea’, which I suspect is a nice way of saying I had an obsession. Before I went into hospital I was very healthy – I didn’t smoke or eat much junk food and I rarely drank alcohol. Upon discharge I started smoking, drinking cheap wine (five glasses per night) and abusing my medication (Stilnox/ambien). I did this to numb my suicidal compulsion, and also the profound sense of guilt I had developed for not acting on what my conscience was telling me was the right thing to do. Six months after my first suicide attempt, I had a conversation with a woman who had also suffered depression and suicidal thoughts. This conversation brought me peace and lessened the burden on my soul. I explained to her the thoughts I was having, as I had tried to explain to my psychiatrist. She said something to the effect that my thoughts had started rationalising the depression that my body was experiencing. For so many years I had felt empty and joyless from depression. I had felt lost and lonely, awkward and scared. For many years I felt guilty for no reason I could identify. My mind had absorbed all these feelings and reacted to them in a way that seemed logical – “why go on if this is what living means?” Her analysis resounded true to me, and from that moment forth I felt a gradual shift, and a lessening of the guilt. I concluded from this new insight that it was possible my rationalisation of my own existence was indeed inaccurate. I had based my understanding of my purpose and future on many years of depression, rather than on the experiences of a person free from mental illness. In medical terms, I had developed a psychosis, but I’ve chosen not to use this word up until now because I feel it detracts from the realness of my experience. I knew from the moment of my admission to hospital that I had a psychosis, but it wasn’t until I unpackaged my experience in a way that made sense to me that I could start to heal. My healing continued with regular visits to my psychiatrist, the ongoing support of my family and friends, and the gradual refinement of my medication regime. It’s now seven years since that harrowing ordeal. I have not had a suicidal thought since. I feel strong and focused. I thoroughly enjoy life. This message may not mean anything to you, but I can’t help wondering if the young woman buried yesterday experienced something similar to me.